The Fillmore is known for many things: apples, posters, a very well-organized merch line and, of course, all of the many amazing artists that have played it.
“Oh my god – Jerry Garcia!”
“WOW Miles Davis!”
We’re sitting on a couch in the dressing room shared by Soccer Mommy and Stef Chura. Patrick, the Soccer Mommy drummer, Carmen, the bassist, and Julian the guitarist, are vocalizing their excitement about the posters that fill the walls. It is Friday, July 21, and the tiny room is full of young musicians eating, drinking, laughing and talking music.
Sophie Allison, Soccer Mommy herself, is a 20 year-old alternative singer-songwriter with a friendly, chill vibe. She sits on the couch with her legs crossed, one elbow resting on her knee, ready to be interviewed. The rest of the musicians file out.
KCR: Can you introduce yourself for us?
Soccer Mommy: Hi, I’m Soccer Mommy, or Sophie Allison. One’s my real name. One’s my stage name.
KCR: Is this your biggest tour so far?
SM: Definitely. it’s our first tour (laughs), so [we’ve got] nothing really to compare it to besides playing shows out of town every once in awhile when I was at school.
KCR: How’s it going?
SM: Good! It’s been fun. We’ve only been [touring for], what, five days? It’s the fifth day. It’s been good.
KCR: Is this your first time on the west coast?
SM: No, not ever. This is our first time playing. But I’ve been twice.
KCR: To the bay?
SM: San Francisco once, LA the other time.
KCR: And you just played Wonder Ballroom, so was that Portland?
SM: Yeah, that was good. It was a fun one for sure. It sounded really good and it was a little bit bigger. Not this big, for sure, but it was the biggest one besides this one. So, it was definitely cool.
KCR: You go to NYU, right?
SM: Yes, but I’m taking a year off now. But, I do go there and I’ll probably be returning.
KCR: Is it hard to manage being an artist while being in school?
SM: Yes, definitely. It’s hard to do school when you’re doing [only] that. It just seems boring and not fun, because it is. It’s just like having two jobs, kind of. You’re full-time trying to pursue being an artist and then you’re in school full-time. It’s like a double life.
KCR: Do you think that New York inspires you in a different way than Nashville does?
SM: Yeah I would say so. I think my experience in New York is a lot different from my experience in Nashville. Partially because I don’t live with my boyfriend when I’m in New York and I do when I’m in Nashville, so it’s definitely a very different experience. And, the cities are extremely different too. [New York City] is much more wild and upbeat, and Nashville is a lot more chill.
KCR: You get very personal in your songwriting. Is it hard to be so vulnerable?
SM: No, I don’t think so because I don’t do it in real life. I only really [am vulnerable] in songs, so it’s easier than it would be in my day-to-day life. I don’t really express those kinds of things, so I can just put them in a song and no one really knows what it’s about. It’s [being] vulnerable without being as vulnerable, I would say.
KCR: Do people ever try to talk to you about things that you’ve written?
SM: Oh, people have tried to guess, like, “is this about this person?” And I’m like, “no, it’s not.” They’ll just assume. Or, they’ll ask me what it’s about and I’m like “I don’t know.” I don’t usually write songs about one instance, it’s usually like a….
SM: Yes! That’s a word.
KCR: You’re playing with a full band now. Do you feel like that changes the vibe compared to the “bedroom pop” that you started out making?
SM: Yeah, definitely. But, I think that’s always what I wanted for the songs. We’ll play a lot of songs tonight that are from “songs from my bedroom.” [Which is] stuff I released on Bandcamp that was just me playing. But the only reason they sound like they do on the first [collection] is because I couldn’t really make them sound better. I was recording on a really crappy device. I had to play drums really softly so it wouldn’t distort. It’s mostly the drums that are different (laughs). Everything else I could still record. Now it’s just better quality [drums] and slightly better arrangements. When I was doing bedroom pop stuff I would do some…I don’t want to say electronic, but I would have some drum machines every once in awhile. I did have a couple [songs] like that, and I don’t really do anything like that anymore. Although, I am trying it out on some stuff right now – having drums and a drum machine together on songs. But I don’t do just drum machines on songs anymore.
KCR: How’d you find the band that you’re working with now?
SM: [The guitarist] is my boyfriend. They’re all from Nashville. The drummer is one of my boyfriend’s good friends and also someone I just kind of knew through being the same age in high school. Now, we’re obviously closer from being in a band together. And then Carmen is just friends with Patrick and went to high school with him and Julian [who plays guitar], and is also in the local music scene. So, I just know her from that too. She joined like two weeks ago, but she’s great.
KCR: How did you pick which songs are going to be on “Collection?”
SM: I just [picked] what we’ve been playing live since last summer, with a full band. I picked the ones I like the most. And the solo ones are the ones I play in New York live. And there’s two new ones, obviously. It was a pretty easy choice in the end. [With one song], I was thinking, “should we do this?” But, we weren’t playing it live as much, so it didn’t make it [on “Collection”].
KCR: Are you working on a full length of new songs?
SM: I am working on a full length of entirely new songs…I think there might be one that has come out before.
KCR: Do you have an expected date?
SM: Early next year. So, not long. Really rushed. It’s going to be so fun getting it all done while I’m on tour. I don’t have a free minute for the next four months. I’m on tour or recording somewhere or in London. It’s cool, but then we’ll get another offer for something [I’d like to do] and I don’t have any time [to do it].
KCR: Are you a yes person?
SM: I’m a really big yes person. We’ll get an offer and I’m like, “I have to fit this in.” And, we’ll have two days here, and three days here and a day here, and that’s the only time we can do it. It gets a little wild.
KCR: No wonder you’re not going back to school.
SM: I know! I’m keeping busy. If I’m not going to be in school I’m not going to waste my time.
KCR: Do you actually play soccer?
SM: I did. I used to. I was on a travel team.
KCR: What position were you?
SM: I played everything. I played center, for a while. I didn’t play forward very much. It was usually center or midfield. It’s not that big of a difference when you’re like 13 or 14. Or [I played] defense. And sometimes I would play goalie too.
KCR: Wow, all over the place!
SM: Yeah, I did a lot. And, on my middle school team I played forward. I played travel and school soccer for a minute, and then I was like “I hate this.” And then I went to high school, which was an arts high school, and I was [playing soccer] my freshman year. Then, I was like, “why am I doing this?” I had a revelation where I realized I could just quit. I asked my dad [if I could quit] and he was like “yeah if you don’t like it.” So, I just quit. It felt so weird.
KCR: We probably all go through one of those phases where you realize you can just quit.
SM: Yeah, you realize that if you don’t like it, you just shouldn’t do it.
KCR: Did you pick the name before or after you quit?
SM: Oh, long after. Years. I quit freshman year of high school.
KCR: So the ‘mommy’ just comes from the aesthetic.
SM: Yeah. It was just a joke name, you know? It’s cutesy – the way it sounds. But, it’s also kind of a joke. Especially with all the “mom” or “dad” names. It’s making fun of that a little bit. I don’t know. I don’t care that much about a band name. I’d just rather write the music; I’m not that great at the names.
KCR: Who’re you listening to right now?
SM: We’ve been listening to a lot of music on the road. A lot of 16 hour drives have been happening. We’ve been listening to the Drums’ record a lot – actually just cause we’re [on tour with them] and it’s so catchy. We listened to Jay Som’s record a lot—shocker—going on tour with her too. I listened to that new Japanese Breakfast album a little bit. [I’m] always listening to Mitski. We’ve been listening to…Big Thief. And Frank Ocean, we’ve been playing a bit of that too. DAMN we’ve been playing a lot. Oh, and that new Anna Altman record is super good. I don’t even know how to describe it; it’s just like really good. It’s kind of shoegaze-y. It’s a two-piece and I know a person in it. It’s really good for only being guitar and drums – and just in general of course.
KCR: Final question: if you had to be stranded on a deserted island with one artist, who would it be?
SM: Oh this is going to be so hard.
KCR: At least we didn’t ask you to pick one band member.
SM: Well, then I’d pick my boyfriend!
KCR: Easy choice.
SM: I feel weird saying it about anyone because most of the artists I love I could easily meet soon. Do you know what I mean? Like when you love artists that aren’t that huge, it’s easy to just meet them. And then it’s weird.
KCR: What about a dead artist? Or someone super famous.
SM: That’s so hard. It’s such a big decision. Liz Phair would be a cool one. That’s someone I wouldn’t meet on the average day.
KCR: Now you’re going to meet her because you said that.
SM: I know. Good! Jinxed myself, what a bummer. Yeah, I’m gonna say Liz Phair. Or like, Lana del Rey. But I think Liz would be chill.
It gets loud again, and the pre-show routines begin. Soccer Mommy touches up her makeup (I check to make sure her eye shadow is blended) and changes into a new midi-length, long-sleeved boot printed dress. The band shoves in some food, cracks a few cold ones and jokingly frets about playing the sold-out Fillmore. Then, they head on-stage.
After spending a couple hours with them, the group now seems young, and like our peers. But, make no mistake, Soccer Mommy’s music is nothing but mature. The crowd pushes forward, listening to Soccer Mommy’s hypnotic voice meshing with the upbeat rhythms and light notes. Besides the occasional yell of “girl power” by one super deep voice, the audience is quiet. The reaction, however, is loud after every song, and Soccer Mommy makes sure to thank the crowd several times.
The band plays for 15 minutes and then unplugs and heads off stage, leaving Soccer Mommy alone with her guitar and her mic. She plays about five more songs from her upcoming EP “Collection,” (not, however, her new single) and then heads off-stage to sound of the crowd’s applause.
Soccer Mommy is a young artist who is already producing eager, vulnerable music – bedroom pop or not. “Collection” is going to be a winner, based on what we heard at the Fillmore, and is out August 4. For now, check out Soccer Mommy’s current music on Spotify or bandcamp, or pre-order “Collection” here to support a starving college student like yourself.
By Sarah Anderson and Alicia Hoole